Student coalition highlights 'extensive' links between Singapore universities and fossil fuel industry, urges full divestment by 2030

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SINGAPORE: A coalition of students in Singapore has called on universities to transition away from the fossil fuel industry by 2030, as part of a report the group released on Monday (Jan 17) detailing "extensive" links between the parties.

Titled Fossil-Fuelled Universities, the 68-page report highlighted linkages between the fossil fuel industry and universities in areas including finance and management.

It was published by Students for a Fossil Free Future (S4F), a coalition made up of 40 students from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and Yale-NUS College.

According to the report, NUS and NTU both have endowment funds that are "indirectly" invested in fossil fuels.

For NUS, this sum is "at least S$5.9 million" – a figure the report deduced from a statement given by NUS Investment Office in March 2019 that the university's indirect investment in fossil fuels made up a "low single digit" percentage of its total endowment fund which, as of 2021, stood at S$5.9 billion.

NTU's investments had "minimal exposure to the fossil fuel industry" but the report was unable to put a figure to it as the university did not disclose the size of its exposure compared to its total endowment fund of S$2.5 billion.

The other four local universities contacted by the student coalition - SMU, SUTD, SIM Global Education and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) - did not disclose their exposure to fossil fuel-linked assets, the report said.

"By investing in the fossil fuel industry, universities both financially support the industry and demonstrate confidence in the industry to deliver long-term returns," the authors said.

They added that divesting from fossil fuels will send a "clear social signal" that continued fossil-fuel reliance is "backward-looking", and companies that do so will be left behind.

BOARD MEMBERS, SCHOLARSHIPS WITH FOSSIL FUEL LINKS

Beyond fossil fuel-linked investments, the report also raised concerns about possible "conflicts of interest", pointing out the presence of fossil fuel industry leaders - past and present - sitting on university boards.

"We also recogni...

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